But it seems that award season is painting a different picture.
Not a chainsaw was visible at the Golden Globes. And this year’s Oscar nominations seem to be going the same way. Leading Academy Award contenders like “Lincoln,” “Les Miserables,”and “Life of Pi” represent both a more serious tone and show a refreshing diversity further manifest in leading nominees like “Silver Lining Playbook” and “Amour.” A.O. Scott remarks on this trend in the year’s movies in a recent article briefly excerpted below, observing that “ the Academy’s choices confirmed that 2012 was not just a strong year for movies, but also for precisely the kind of movies that are supposed to be nearly obsolete.”“For the past few years, the Oscars have been haunted by the fear that the pictures, to paraphrase Norma Desmond, had gotten small. Or at least that the kind of pictures worthy of Academy Awards no longer operated at a scale demanded by a worldwide broadcast. The box office numbers of best picture nominees seemed to be shrinking as the movie business split in two. At one end was a specialized boutique outfit, at the other a franchise factory geared to the international mass market. Between those poles was a hole where the serious mainstream movies used to be.
“Some time in the past decade or so, the argument goes, Hollywood abandoned the grown-up audience, preferring to chase after adolescent eyeballs with fantasy blockbusters and lowbrow genre fare. Or maybe the discerning public, seduced by cable television and distracted by the Internet, gave up on moviegoing, leaving the multiplexes to the teenage mutant vampire hordes. In any case, the idea that American cinema could define and ennoble the broad middle ground of the culture — a magical place where art intersects with commerce and popularity coexists with prestige — is as dead as the old studio system.
“Don’t believe it. When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees Thursday, it dealt a blow to this conventional wisdom. Whether ambitious mainstream moviemaking has been granted a new, long-term lease on life remains to be seen. But the Academy’s choices confirmed that 2012 was not just a strong year for movies, but also for precisely the kind of movies that are supposed to be nearly obsolete.”